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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Erap and Jinggoy Estrada: "Like Father Like Son" (in so many ways...)


“Anak ng ni ERAP, Anak ng Masa”
From His Website:
It is not hard to imagine that Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, being the eldest son of President Joseph Marcelo Ejercito Estrada and Senator Luisa Pimentel Ejercito Estrada who are best known for their pro-poor advocacies, chose to represent and stand up for the poor and the marginalized in the Upper Chamber of Congress. It is for this reason that Jinggoy earned the distinction of being called the “Anak ng Masa.” 

"Like Father, Like Son"
Convicted Plunderer

In sum, the Court finds that prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the commission by the principal accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada of the crime of plunder but not so in the case of former Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Edward Serapio.

S A N D I G B A Y A N  D  E  C  I  S  I  O  N (2007)
     
Republic Act (RA) No. 7080 as amended was approved on July 12, 1991, creating and introducing into our criminal legal system the crime of “plunder”.  This law penalizes public officers who would amass immense wealth through a series or combination of overt or criminal acts described in the statute in violation of the public trust.  RA No. 7080 or the Anti-Plunder Law was a consolidation of Senate Bill no. 733 and House Bill No. 22752.  The Explanatory Note of Senate Bill No. 733, quoted in the case of Estrada v. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 148965, February 26, 2002, 377 SCRA 538, 555), explains the reason behind the law as follows: chan robles virtual law library

Plunder, a term chosen from other equally apt terminologies like kleptocracy and economic treason, punishes the use of high office for personal enrichment, committed thru a series of acts done not in the public eye but in stealth and secrecy over a period of time, that may involve so many persons, here and abroad, and which touch so many states and territorial units.  The acts and/or omissions sought to be penalized do not involve simple cases of malversation of public funds, bribery, extortion, theft and graft but constitute plunder of an entire nation resulting in material damage to the national economy.  The above-described crime does not yet exist in Philippine statute books.  Thus, the need to come up with a legislation as a safeguard against the possible recurrence of the depravities of the previous regime and as a deterrent to those with similar inclination to succumb to the corrupting influence of power.

The majority opinion in the above-cited case, penned by Honorable Justice Josue  N. Bellosillo, further explained the rationale behind the Anti-Plunder Law in this manner:

Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials in high places which have shaken its very foundation.  The anatomy of graft and corruption has become more elaborate in the corridors of time as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive more and more ingenious ways to milk the coffers of the government.  Drastic and radical measures are imperative to fight the increasingly sophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and economically catastrophic looting of the national treasury.  Such is the Plunder Law, especially designed to disentangle those ghastly tissues of grand-scale corruption which, if left unchecked, will spread like a malignant tumor and ultimately consume the moral and institutional fiber of our nation.  The Plunder Law, indeed, is a living testament to the will of the legislature to ultimately eradicate this scourge and thus secure society against the avarice and other venalities in public office.

These are times that try men’s souls.  In the checkered history of this nation, few issues of national importance can equal the amount of interest and passion generated by petitioner’s ignominious fall from the highest office, and his eventual prosecution and trial under a virginal statute.  This continuing saga has driven a wedge of dissension among our people that may linger for a long time.  Only by responding to the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above factionalism and prejudices, shall we emerge triumphant in the midst of ferment. [Emphasis supplied]

The present case is the first of its kind to be filed charging the highest official of the land, a former President, among others, of the offense of plunder.  Needless to state, the resolution of this case shall set significant historical and legal precedents.

Throughout the six years over which the court proceedings in this case unfolded, this Court confronted numerous novel and complicated legal issues (including the constitutionality of the plunder law, propriety of house arrest, among others), heard lengthy testimonies from several dozens of witnesses from both sides and perused voluminous documentary evidence and pleadings from the parties.  Considering the personalities involved and the nature of the crime charged, the present case aroused particularly intense interest from the public.  Speculations on the probable outcome of the case received unparalleled attention from the media and other sectors of society.  Indeed, the factual and legal complexities of the case are further compounded by attempts to sensationalize the proceedings for various ends.

However, this Court is ever mindful of its imperative duty to act as an impartial arbiter: (a) to serve the interest of the State and the public in punishing those who would so severely abuse their public office and those private individuals would aid them or conspire with them and (b) to protect the right of the accused to be only convicted upon guilt proven beyond reasonable doubt.  Thus, the decision of this Court follows, upon no other consideration other than the law and a review of the evidence on record.

In sum, the Court finds that prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the commission by the principal accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada of the crime of plunder but not so in the case of former Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Edward Serapio.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in Criminal Case No. 26558 finding the accused, Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of PLUNDER defined in and penalized by Republic Act No. 7080, as amended.  On the other hand, for failure of the prosecution to prove and establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the Court finds the accused Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Atty. Edward S. Serapio NOT GUILTY of the crime of plunder, and accordingly, the Court hereby orders their ACQUITTAL.

The penalty imposable for the crime of plunder under Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, is Reclusion Perpetua to Death.  There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, however, the lesser penalty shall be applied in accordance with Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code.  Accordingly, accused Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and the accessory penalties of civil interdiction during the period of sentence and perpetual absolute disqualification.

The period within which accused Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention shall be credited to him in full as long as he agrees voluntarily in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners.

Moreover, in accordance with Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, the Court hereby declares the forfeiture in favor of the government of the following:

(1)    The total amount of Five Hundred Forty Two Million Seven Hundred Ninety One Thousand Pesos (P545,291,000.00), with interest and income earned, inclusive of the amount of Two Hundred Million Pesos (P200,000,000.00), deposited in the name and account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation.

(2)  The amount of One Hundred Eighty Nine Million Pesos (P189,000,000.00), inclusive of interests and income earned,  deposited in the Jose Velarde account.


(3)  The real property consisting of a house and lot dubbed as “Boracay Mansion” located at #100 11th Street, New Manila, Quezon City.
Jinggoy: I'm ready to go to jail
Jinggoy Estrada said he will exhaust all legal remedies to prove his innocence.
Estrada said he is ready to go to jail.
"Alam naman namin na moro-moro lang yan. It took them only 6 months to read voluminous documents. Sabi nila truck truck...Sanay na ko makulong. Wala po akong pinapakain sa aking pamilya na galing sa pork barrel scam. Wala po akong kasalanan sa taong bayan," he said. From ABS-CBN News
"HINDI AKO MAGNANAKAW"
From Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Senator  Jose “Jinggoy”  Estrada  said goodbye to the Senate on Wednesday, saying  he would temporarily vacate  his  post.
“Pansamantala kong babakantehin ang aking upuan nang nakataas ang noo. Buo ang loob at buo ang integridad, prinsipyo at pangalan dahil wala akong salaping pinakialaman sa kaban ng ating mahal na bayan,’’ Estrada said in a privilege speech.
(I would temporarily leave my seat with dignity. My integrity, principle and name remain unblemished because I didn’t touch the nation’s coffers.)
“Lalaban ako sa legal na proseso.  Hindi ko ito uupuan lang.  Yayakapin ko ang hustisya hindi lang para sa akin kundi para sa aking pamilya at higit sa lahat para sa ating mga kababayan na umaasa at naniniwala pa din na ang bansang ito ay mapagkakatiwalaan at maipagmamalaki.”
(I will fight this legally. I will not sit on it. I will embrace justice not for my sake but also for my family and fellowmen’s sake who are hoping and believing that this country can be relied on and be a source of pride.)
Estrada, who has been charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the “pork barrel” scam, said  he might be absent when  Congress  opens  its regular sessions in July.
Congress will  adjourn sine die this  Wednesday and will resume its session on July 28, 2014.
“Marahil sa pagbubukas ng panibagong sesyon ng Mataas na Kapulungang ito sa darating na Hulyo, hindi niyo muna ako makikita ditto,”  he said.
“Sa bibihira at limitadong pagkakataon, a-absent po ako sa Senado.  Pero sandali lang po ito at babalik din ako,” he further said.
Estrada then thanked his family starting with his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada,  who he said  has been worried about him.
“Dad, huwag kang mag-alala, kaya ko ito (Dad, don’t worry, I can handle this),” he said.
“Sa panahong ito na hindi na kayo bumabata, naghahabol na akong makasama kayo.  Ngunit gustuhin ko mang gugulin ang aking panahon para naman hindi ko pagsisihan at panghinayangan sa huli ang mga dapat ginagawa ko habang kayo ay kasama ko, panandalian ko pong hindi matutupad ito.  Pero babawi po ako.”
(You are not getting any younger, I am catching up so we can be together. But I cannot do it right now I have to do what I have to. I will make it up to you.)
The senator also thanked  his siblings – Jacquiline at Jude, who were present at the session hall while he was delivering his speech,  for their support.
To his wife, Precy,  Estrada  asked for forgiveness for all the pains that he might have caused   because of what he has been going through.
“Nawa’y manatili kang matatag lalong-lalo na para sa ating mga anak (I pray that you will be strong for our children),”  he said of his wife.
“At sa nalalapit nating paggunita ng ika-dalawampu’t-limang (25) taon ng ating pag-iisang dibdib, nais ko sanang iharap kang muli sa dambana.  Ngunit dahil hindi umaayon ang pagkakataon, gagawin ko pa din na ikaw ay pakasalan kahit ako ay nasa piitan.”
(For our 25th wedding anniversary, I would like also to bring you to the altar. Though developments hold me back, I will defy these and renew my vows even in jail.)
And to his children –Janella, Jolo, Julian at Jill,  the senator reminded them to continue  to be God-fearing, stay humble, and  to be proud, not be ashamed of the name “Estrada.”
The senator said his fight was not yet over. In fact, he said, it was just about to start.
He said he would not also allow false accusations to destroy the  people’s trust on  him and would  instead prove his supporters that he  had not been remiss and had not abused  his  position.
“Sa mga taong hindi masaya sa pagtupad ko sa aking tungkulin bilang mambabatas, hindi kayo ang magiging dahilan ng aking pagsuko.  Tutuparin ko pa rin ang aking pangako sa ating mga kababayan na sila ang palaging una sa aking paglilingkod, may rehas mang nakaharang o wala,” said the senator.
Estrada reiterated that he  would voluntarily surrender to  authorities once a warrant of arrest was issued  by  the Sandiganbayan.
He also repeatedly stated that  he  was innocent of the charges  being  hurled at him.
“Nais kong ipakadiin – HINDI AKO MAGNANAKAW.   Alam ko kung ano ang nararapat para sa akin at kung ano ang halagang dapat pakinabangan ng ating mga kababayan,” he said.